Friday, November 2, 2012

Routine Battles

This post was originally published on Anktangle as part of the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting. I'm needing to write a follow-up, so wanted to publish this here:

It wasn't until our recent move that I finally got a good, steady routine going with Sasha. We now brush teeth and hair as well as go potty before bed. The potty part was the hardest for me to remember! I just GO when I have to go.

I had night weaned her only recently, so she was no longer waking to nurse. She would wake to pee, though, or even wet the bed if I didn't make sure she went before going to sleep.

Not long after the move, I started limiting bed time nursing to only 10 minutes. This occasionally made for battles, too, as she is learning to fall asleep without a nipple in her mouth.

And that is the short story background to get to this: sometimes we have tooth-brushing battles. She loves to "brush" her own teeth, but would fight letting me brush them. I am sad to say that I have argued and yelled at her. The only thing that seemed to work was threatening to not let her nurse before bed. I even tucked her into bed a few times before getting her to let me brush her teeth! I felt awful about it, though. That is not the parent I want to be.

While chatting with some other Natural Parents Network volunteers online, one of these friends suggested a bedtime routine list. I took her brilliant idea and ran with it! I wanted to make the routine fun.

Momma Jorje - Checkmarks

I started out by printing some images, but I'll get back to those. The fun crafty part started by making 3 checkmarks using 4 x 6 notecards. I colored them each a different color and set them aside.

Momma Jorje - Bedtime Checklist

I made a square template using notecards and traced them to make "blanks" on trimmed-down posterboard. I used regular white glue spread thin on the backs of my images to glue them next to the blanks.

Note that I looked for images to specifically assist in our struggles. The hair and teeth pictures are of a woman brushing the child's hair and teeth. I think it might be fun to use actual photographs from your own bedtime routine.

Momma Jorje - Bedtime Checklist

I stuck self-adhesive Velcro® to the back of each checkmark. If I were to improve on this project, I would have taken the Velcro® size into account and made the checkmarks fit better.

Momma Jorje - Bedtime Checklist

I lined up the checkmarks where I wanted them and set the other side of the adhesive Velcro® in place with them. Then I mounted (taped) the checklist on the bathroom door at Sasha's level.

Momma Jorje - Bedtime Checklist

I also mounted a pocket for the checkmarks. I used notecards again, but made the top piece slightly larger than the back piece to allow extra room for my checkmarks. This pocket is mounted out of reach.

That first night, she was so excited! Sasha was more than happy to do her bedtime routine and check each item off the list. I let her choose what order in which to do these things.

The next morning, she wanted to do the checklist again! That was great, as these same steps were great for a morning routine for us. (Our list only has brush teeth, brush hair, and go potty.) Later in the day she wanted to do the checklist every time she went potty! She at least wanted to place that checkmark every time.

The second day she was back to battling our bedtime routine. I am hopeful that the list will still be fun, but I think timing bedtime better might also help in our case.

How do you manage the bedtime routine in your house?


  1. Both kids have a bath and brush their teeth before bed and they go to sleep around the same time. Sometimes I have trouble with them being super silly and not putting PJs on, but mostly, the bath, teeth, PJs routine is pretty simple and swift.

    Bedtime has changed so much - I just follow Abbey AND have a firmness and consistency to my resolve at bedtime. It's an interesting balance.

    When she was young (<18 months) I would nurse her to sleep and sing her to sleep. When she reached toddlerhood, neither of those would really work - there was a very frustrating period where she kept screaming for me when I would leave the room. No matter how long I stayed, or whether she was asleep by the time I left. Rocking, dancing with her, back patting and shushing worked to calm the tension, but bedtime was a serious thing that I did not look forward to for a few months!

    Between 2 and 3, nursing to sleep again was the bedtime routine of choice for Abs. As I was pregnant with Joseph at the time, I realize now that I feel I should have established some more limits to our nursing because it was incredibly uncomfortable and irksome for me and created (again) a lot of tension around bedtime.

    At three years old, Abbey started fearing the dark and wanting to keep her light on and "read" after nursing. She would fall asleep with dozens of books in her bed. Now, at four, she is back to nursing, but only for a few seconds, and she falls asleep on her own, gazing up at her "Dream Light" (pillow pet thing) and singing to herself. . . Joseph as 19 months does the same, though he nurses for much longer than she does, and some nights needs additional comforting after I leave his room.

    Bedtimes. . . . oh, bedtimes. . .

  2. This is such a fun idea! I am going to pin this because I think it will be something that could help Big Brother in the coming months.

  3. Kieran has always been a pretty easy kiddo around bedtime (assuming I'm the one putting him to bed). We brush teeth, then read, and then we used to nurse - up until Ailia was born. Now we brush teeth, read, and I pat his back or snuggle him to sleep (he very, very occasionally asks to nurse, but he only nurses for a few seconds - it's no longer his bedtime comfort).
    It will be interesting to see how our routine changes once we're trying to get both kids down at the same time!

  4. This is a great idea. Im so awful with remembering to do all the steps myself, because I am relaxed with bed times and I let Jesse lead when he feels he wants to go to bed (within reason) - this works really well for us, but, I often forget to brush his teeth etc. Plus, he hates me brushing them too. I think this would work wonderfully for us! :)

    1. I do NOT do routines well, so I used to do the same with Sasha. Sometimes I'd even go to sleep before her!

      Over time, the routine took over and we rarely do the actual checkmarks anymore, but she still knows each of the steps. And to give her some control, I often let her choose which thing to do first and next.

  5. Marcella would love the checkmarks! We have our ups and downs with bedtime but mostly just because she likes to sleep in and I'm not big on waking her up unless we have to be somewhere. I just know I have always hated being woken before my body was ready. So, that means that some nights she is up later than I'd like but it pretty much works for us. ;)


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